What has put Axum on the tourist radar goes beyond Christian times. Superbly carved Stelae from those times still point 35 meters into the sky. Then they marked the tombs of royalty and nobility.
The biggest one toppled over, smashing some of the tombs dug into ground below. The broken pieces still lay there lined up, unmoved over all this time. What made it fall? Its base was too small to carry the 150 tons, but of course there is a local version of this disaster - Yodit, a vicious Jewish Queen, pushed it over after raiding Axum.
Some of the tombs below are still intact and accessible, with vaulted passages and up to ten chambers. Sadly, all had been looted before archeologists discovered them.